A task force has met twice to discuss how Newton USD 373 can advocate at the state level — and that group is struggling to come to agreement of what should be done.
"I really don't think we will come to a consensus," said Dick Koontz, a member of the three member task force.
The task force was born out of a discussion of Schools For Fair Funding — and an accompanying lawsuit which is currently in front of the supreme court for the second time.
Earlier in 2013 the board voted to pull out of the group. Newton was one of the founding districts in the group. In addition to participating in a lawsuit seeking more funding from the state Legislature, the group also employs lobbyists in Topeka.
"We are hung up on a funding issue, but ti is more than that. it is how we approach our legislators on a variety of issues, not just when we have a problem," said superintendent Deb Hamm.
The task force includes Barbara Bunting, Renee Erickson and Koontz.
The group, at this point, as a list of seven recommendations.
Two, at this point, seem to be at the top of the list — one to participate in Schools For Funding at a full level costing about $21,000 annually and is in the district budget. The other is to pay for lobbying services, but not for litigation.
However, there is not consensus for either at this time.
"I am adamantly opposed to both those options," Erickson said.
However, board member Matt Treaster was intrigued with the idea of paying for lobbying services and not litigation.
"I thank them for doing this. It takes more time. It looks like you have tried to think outside the box. I did not lower level of support for Schools For Fair Funding and I am intrigued by that," Treaster said.
He asked what other services may be available to the district.
There are others — and some districts which have retained their own lobbyists in the past.
The task force will meet once more — charged with making recommendations of how to move forward in the future.
Koontz said the three will likely vote on what options to bring to the board in November, rather than reach consensus.
"I thought it would be more of a listing of options, but I am not opposed to a vote by you guys," Treaster said. " I see options here I did not think of, and I appreciate what you have done."
The task force will offer recommendations as informational item in November.
In other business the board:
• Recognized Robin Montano who was nominated for the Kansas Horizon Award.
• Heard a report by staff bout programs at Cooper Early Education Center.
• Accepted the gift IXL Math software from the Northridge PTO on behalf of Northridge Elementary.
• Accepted a cash gift from the Walton Fun Fest on behalf of Walton Elementary.
• Accepted the donation of a car and a pickup for use by the auto mechanic students at Newton High School on behalf of NHS.
• Approved an agreement with Prairie View for day school services.
• Approved an application for federal pass through funds.
• Approved a contract revision and extension for Superintendent Deb Hamm.
• Approved limit for district credit cards. The district currently has 12 cards with limits between $1,000 and $5,000.
• Discussed Multi-Tier Systems of Support procedures and protocol.
• Discussed professional development survey results.